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New BizTalk Server Bigger on Process

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It may not be as sexy as Windows Vista or Office 2007, but BizTalk Server remains a core piece of Microsoft’s middleware.

The company this week announced that it has released to manufacturing BizTalk Server 2006, a business process management (BPM) server that helps customers integrate applications within Microsoft environments.

BPM software helps distributed computing systems, such as service-oriented architectures (SOA) , choreograph Web services.BizTalk Server 2006, last upgraded in 2004, has a number of new features that help customers corral Web services and turn them into actionable business processes, said Steven Martin, director of product management for BizTalk Server 2006.

The product upgrades easily from BizTalk 2004, and has a new, unified management console via a portal, application-level management, as well as easier configuration.

“When you’re orchestrating lots of Web services together to form a complex business process, management is popping up as a pretty key item,” Martin said.

There are also 12 new adapters, or hooks to software from Siebel, Oracle, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards, as well as real-time business activity monitoring alerts to give customers insight into their processes.

Martin said the new features mesh with the work that BizTalk Server’s 6,000 customers have done the last few years, integrating multiple, disparate pieces of software to make them work in one system.

The executive said Microsoft made the improvements to accommodate customers building new processes on a management tool to extract business logic out of an off-the-shelf application.

BizTalk Server, which may be integrated with Microsoft SharePoint collaboration software, will be available May 1 in 32- and 64-bit versions. The software will come in three editions and will include Host Integration Server, Microsoft’s AS400 and mainframe integration software.

Priced at $8,499, the standard edition is limited to two CPUs on a single server and comes with five BizTalk applications. The enterprise edition costs $29,999 and is unlimited in scale out, clustering and BizTalk applications.

For $499, users can get a developer’s edition that allows programmers to test the product. It’s also free with MSDN Universal.

Microsoft sees its BPM software as a key piece of infrastructure on which Web services and service-oriented architectures are built.

Rival middleware providers IBM, Oracle and BEA Systems seem to agree on the importance of BPM. IBM issueda WebSphere Processor Server last year.

Oracle purchased Collaxa and injected its assets into its Fusion Middleware. Most recently, BEA boughtFuego Systems to boost its BPM capabilities.

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